A Date to Pinpoint on the Moral Arc of the Universe

Simonetta Nardin in Chasing Waterfalls:

Today marks the anniversary of the death of Robert F. Kennedy, assassinated in 1968 after winning the primary in California, on the way to obtaining the nomination of the Democratic party and, perhaps, the presidency.

Just two months earlier, Kennedy had found himself in front of a mostly African-Americans in Indianapolis. Martin Luther King had been murdered that afternoon, and it was Kennedy who broke the news. He had been advised against keeping that election event and addressing the crowd, but Kennedy showed courage and moral standing, telling local police officers that if they crowd would bother them, “you’re the one with the problem.” RFK had the credibility to speak honestly about King, and how personal that loss was, evoking (for the first time in public) his brother who was murdered five years earlier.

In the somewhat grainy video of the time, you can clearly hear the gasps of disbelief and pain with which the news was received. RFK spoke only for about five minutes. Quoting Aeschylus and the Greeks, he said, among other things: “What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness; but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or they be black.”

The mostly improvised words he delivered that April 4, 1968, are dramatically current as America relives scenes from the same movie 52 years later – the riots in the cities, the police brutality towards African Americans, the economic crisis that aggravates the already dramatic social inequalities.

More here.